Sonic LAB: Native Instruments RaZor Synth

Additive Reaktor based synth from Errorsmith      18/05/11
    MP4 10:24 mins    

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Another cunningly designed  synth, built using Native Instruments Reaktor - a comprehensive modular synth creation application with a long pedigree, RaZor joins other artist built machines such as The Finger and The Mouth and Prism.

This synth is the strange brainchild of experimental German techno experimentalist Errorsmith. This instrument has been built up by Mr Errorsmith over a period of time - he used it to create his own music - when a feature was added, he would use it as a source of inspiration for his own music and there are a lot of reasons to get inspired.

Presumably, after a while it had become comprehensive enough to release in its own right. I imagine a little tweak here and skinning  from the boffins at NI got into shape and here we have RaZor - a truly unique synth released as an Ensemble  (prebuilt synth machine patch) for Reaktor - but also can be run in the free Reaktor Player.

A Slice of Additive
Built on an additive synth engine - 320 sine wave partials go to make up the waveforms under the hood, its not your usual softsynth. I like the fact that although its got many familiar interface elements,its actually quite twisted. The waves available range from the usual Saw, Pulse to some really odd and strange options.
Each voice consists of  two Oscillators, two  multi-mode VCFs (there are some really unusual types here), 3 envelopes, 2 LFOs and  plus an integrated stereo effects and dynamics sections.

Fairly straighforward to use, you just load it into the stand-alone Reaktor Player (free download) or run it in your host DAW as VST, RTAS or AU format plugin,  or if you already own Reaktor full, load it up there.

Sounds That Cut
Sounds are very harmonically rich with lots of movement, emphasized with large, animated FFT-style display. Theres a good selection of heavy basses, broken digital fizz and warm, eerie atmospheres and pads.
The effects bring a lot to the party too - when combined with the narly waves (though it can do sweet too), its got some real edge with plenty of distorted, crunch and smack.

Route 666
Razor has a clever, assignable modulation routing system which means its pretty intuitive to start patching up deep routings and MIDI control of almost all parameters many have multiple (up to three) routings. Effects - stereo , and dynamics groups are also available for more of the same and bring a whole lot of extra character.

The First Cut
Its not all sweet in the RaZor garden though, the limitation of the free Reaktor player brings up a couple of issues - firstly - you are limited to 6 voices, secondly - you can’t save any patches - yes you heard me - in the stand alone version there’s no saving of snapshots, in plug-in mode your DAW will save the current settings with the document. Of course, if you have Reaktor full - then both of these limitations go away, but that’s an extra wad of cash.

However it must be said that this synth offers a unique and inspiring set of sounds - ignore the Drum and Bass allusions, while it can wobble bass with the best of them, there is a lot more to it besides. At only €60 and a mere 10mb download its a mighty appealing package if you can live without the presets - maybe that will encourage you to live for the moment?


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